April 20, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Perez made nine birdies on his way to a 7-under 64 Sunday at the RBC Heritage. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- It has been five years since Pat Perez got his last (and only) win on the PGA TOUR. Not that it bothers him.
"I'm know I'm close to winning," he said Sunday following his best round of the year, a 7-under 64 on a windswept day at Harbour Town.
He wasn't speaking in hyperbole, either. Perez had a half-dozen top 25s coming into the week and three of those were finishes in the top 10 -- a tie for seventh at Pebble Beach, a runner-up in San Diego and a tie for eighth in Honolulu.
At the RBC Heritage, a couple of 74s earlier in the week kept him from being closer to the top of the leaderboard, but it vaulted him into the top 15 by the time he finished. Sunday's round was also impressive as much for the nine birdies he made as for his 4-iron approach to a 5-yard window on the 18th hole to set up a closing par.
Playing partner Jonathan Byrd, who made birdie there after rolling in an 18-footer from the fringe, joked it was a "four-club wind." Not quite, but you get the idea.
Perez wanted to get his approach anywhere within a handful of the green, and he did, leaving it just short before chipping to a few feet and sinking a three-footer.
It was the kind of golf coach Joe Mayo thought Perez was capable of when the two started working together in the off-season. Perez was skeptical but the results have given him confidence, and he now understands why he hits bad shots when he does.
Not that there were many of them on Sunday (click here for Perez's scorecard).
The changes Perez has made -- he also switched equipment and recently got engaged -- clearly have him moving closer to ending the drought. Not that going winless in that span weighs on him. Quite the contrary.
"A lot of great players don't win every year," Perez said. "Everyone bases it off it Tiger; that's Tiger, he's a different guy. Anyone who compares themselves to Tiger needs to find something else to do."
The way Perez is playing, it won't be long before he takes his name off that list.